Final curtain for City stars as £200m fire sale in store
VICTORY over QPR this afternoon at the Etihad Stadium could be the final curtain for a gang of Manchester City players who helped push the club over the line to an historic title.
In a fire sale unprecedented in this and any other league, around £200m worth of City talent will be up for grabs this summer. Add the salaries of the 11 players in question and more than a quarter of a billion pounds of Sheikh Mansour's investment could walk out the door.
The snapshot at Eastlands commemorating The Way They Were would have Carlos Tevez (cost, £47m), Edin Dzeko (£27m), Mario Balotelli (£24m), Aleksandar Kolarov (£19m), Kolo Toure (£16m), Adam Johnson (£7m), Stefan Savic (£6m) and David Pizarro (free) in the frame as Roberto Mancini continues to strengthen a squad whose next challenge will be to conquer Europe.
Already the talk around Eastlands is of the quest for long-term domination of English football, should the 44-year championship hoodoo be broken today.
"I don't know," the City manager Roberto Mancini says. "Manchester City now is one of the top teams in England and Europe. After, if Manchester City can win the title for three or four years, it is possible. Now, I don't know. It's important to win the first, and the second afterwards."
City's sale of the century will definitely include three loanees, who are worth a combined £54.5m. These are Emmanuel Adebayor, currently at Tottenham and who cost City £25m from Arsenal, Wayne Bridge (at Sunderland, who cost £12m), and Roque Santa Cruz (at Real Betis, who cost £17.5m).
While City may not part with all of this Etihad XI, or expect to recoup the full £200.5m outlay, even a 50 per cent return would yield £100m as Mancini looks to recruit for next season and City attempt to fall in line with UEFA's stringent financial fair play rules.
For varying reasons, Mancini will find some of his unwanted personnel harder to trade than others.
The head coaches of Inter, Milan, Paris St-Germain, Barcelona and Real Madrid all gaze admiringinly at Tevez, the most prominent of the potential departees. They see a proven performer who has supplied vital goals also at West Ham and Manchester United. But the sticking point could well prove to be a £250,000 a-week salary and the effort of coping with an individual temperament who downed tools for six months following his dispute with Mancini in Munich.
Whether any elite club can finally strike a deal to take Tevez from City could be a summer saga to repeat last year's on-off move to Corinthians, which was followed up by his January dalliance with Milan, Inter and PSG.
The stumbling block has been City's insistence that £25m is the price for the Argentinian. But Chelsea, say, might assess how Tevez finished the season with four goals (so far), while looking sharp and refreshed after his prolonged hiatus.
Of Balotelli, the noises coming from both Mancini and the Italian forward is that he will stay in Manchester. Yet as his eccentric antics this season illustrate, Balotelli is unpredictable and if a sizeable offer is lodged, Mancini may decide to cut his losses on a player who has been a constant source of headaches since his arrival two years ago.
Mancini is certainly seeking at least one new striker, whether Balotelli leaves or not, with Arsenal's potent Robin Van Persie his first choice.
Dzeko -- 15 goals in 44 league appearances -- has proved one-paced and Adebayor is another player to have fallen out with Mancini. Spurs might be interested in making the Togolese's move permanent, though his £170,000 a-week salary is a demand even ambitious Tottenham may balk at, and an offer may hinge on whether they qualify for the Champions League.
Of the rest, Kolarov is now the third-choice left-back behind Gael Clichy and Pablo Zabaleta; Kolo Toure is relatively old at 31; Johnson, 24, has potential but may leave to improve on just 10 league starts this season; Savic appears out of his depth; Pizarro was always a short-term solution to fill in for the unfit Owen Hargreaves; while Bridge and Santa Cruz have been surplus to requirements for at least a season now.
Mancini is reluctant to discuss the shape of next season's squad with the title still not in the bag.
"To talk about next season is too early now," he says. "It is better to talk only about the next two days. Next season we have time to talk about everything. But we have good players, I don't know what will happen over the next two months. For me, they can all stay."
In reality, the club is preparing for an exodus of all the loanees on its books, and many of today's match-day squad who hope to help City to a first league championship since 1968.
Sunday Indo Sport